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The USD/INR Outlook – Is the Indian Rupee in Decline?

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic Indian economy is expected to contract by 5% in the financial year 2021

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Indian Rupee has fluctuated wildly during the last couple of weeks mainly bacuse of the pandemic. Pixabay

Not all nations have handled the coronavirus outbreak with the same measure of efficiency, with India’s chaotic lockdown and confused messaging creating significant uncertainty about the region’s short and medium-term future.

According to the American brokerage firm Goldman Sachs, the Indian economy is subsequently expected to contract by 5% in the financial year 2021, representing the nation’s worst ever performance in this respect.

Despite this sustained economic decline, the Indian Rupee has fluctuated wildly during the last couple of weeks. But why is this the case, and what’s the long-term outlook for this emerging currency?

How has the INR Fared in Recent Times?

Unsurprisingly, the Indian Rupee edged lower during the first week of May, pairing back some of the gains that it made since its initial crash in March (when the lockdown was first announced at incredibly short notice).

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The INR has also enjoyed brief periods of growth against the USD more recently. Pixabay

This depreciation came after the INR actually made gains of 0.3% against the greenback at the end of April, capping three consecutive weeks of modestly rising sentiment for the INR/USD.

This decline came against the backdrop of an increasingly negative economic outlook, with agencies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank providing decidedly downbeat forecasts for medium and longer-term growth.

However, the INR has also enjoyed brief periods of growth against the USD more recently, as it began to incrementally recoup losses and trade within a far wider range. This was largely attributed to better-than-expected Chinese export data, but this trend will not necessarily be sustained over time.

What Does This Tell Us About the Market?

The most recent rise in the performance of the INR also highlighted a slight increase in the market’s appetite for risk, with traders leveraging platforms such as Oanda to track daily price shifts and profit directly from these as the global sentiment improves incrementally against a backdrop of falling Covid-19 cases.

The INR remains a currency to avoid for risk-averse traders, however, particularly as a growing fiscal deficit and increased quantitative easing measures in India continue to restrict growth and devalue the rupee considerably.

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The most recent rise in the performance of the INR also highlighted a slight increase in the market’s appetite for risk Pixabay

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This, combined with rising daily volatility and a slight increase in demand, will definitely divide opinion in the forex market depending on each trader’s unique outlook and overall investment philosophy.

These factors also combine to create an increasingly negative long-term outlook, especially for the remainder of 2020.

Make no mistake; as quantitative easing continues and the base interest rate in India remains noticeably low, the value of the INR will depreciate incrementally over time while experiencing a significant shortage in demand.

[Disclaimer: The article published above promotes links of commercial interests.]

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COVID-19: Infections Spike in Russia, Brazil, India as Lockdown Eases

Countries have eased lockdowns worldwide in order to restart their economies

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COVID-19 patients are treated inside a municipal field hospital Gilberto Novaes in Manaus, Brazil, that has become the world's third worst-hit county with more than 250,000 infections despite limited testing, May 18, 2020. VOA
Coronavirus cases are spiking from India to South Africa and Mexico in a clear indication the pandemic is far from over, while Russia and Brazil now sit behind only the United States in the number of reported infections, according to COVID-19 Information & Resources.

The surges come as much of Asia, Europe and scores of U.S. states have been easing lockdowns to restart their economies as new infections wane. U.S. autoworkers, French teachers and Thai mall workers are among hundreds of thousands of employees back at work with new safety precautions.

Russia reported a steady rise in new infections Tuesday, and new hot spots have emerged across the nation of about 147 million. Russia registered nearly 9,300 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to almost 300,000 infections, about half of them in Moscow. Authorities say over 2,800 people with COVID-19 have died in Russia, a figure some say is surely higher.

Some experts argue Russian authorities have been listing chronic illnesses as the cause of death for many who tested positive for the virus. Officials angrily deny manipulating statistics, saying Russia’s low death toll reflects early preventive measures and broad screening. Nearly 7.4 million tests have been conducted.

In Russia’s second-largest city of St. Petersburg, a virus hot spot, all burials now must be with closed coffins as a precaution, irrespective of the cause of death. Previously the measure applied only to COVID-19 deaths.

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Russia registered nearly 9,300 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to almost 300,000 infections, about half of them in Moscow. Pixabay

Russia’s caseload is second only to that of the U.S., which has seen 1.5 million infections and over 90,000 deaths. The country’s prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin, resumed work Tuesday after a bout of coronavirus.

Cases are still rising across Africa, where all 54 nations have seen confirmed infections for a total of over 88,000 cases and 2,800 deaths, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

South Africa has the highest number of cases at over 16,400 and nearly 290 deaths. Infections have increased dramatically in Cape Town and the surrounding Western Cape province, which now accounts for 61% of South Africa’s total.

Latin America has seen more than 480,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and about 31,000 dead. The highest number of cases is in Brazil, which became the world’s third worst-hit county Monday with more than 250,000 infections despite limited testing. Hospital officials reported that more than 85% of intensive care beds are occupied in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Some countries have seen encouraging signs reverse: Iran reported a steady drop in new infections through April, only to see them rise again in May.

But there is new hope after an experimental vaccine against the coronavirus yielded encouraging results, though in a small and extremely early test. Stocks rallied Monday on the news.

In a surprise announcement, President Donald Trump said he has been taking the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to protect against the virus even though scientists say there is no evidence of its effectiveness against the disease and his own administration has warned it should be administered only in a hospital or research setting because of potentially fatal side effects.

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In a surprise announcement, President Donald Trump said he has been taking the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to protect against the virus even though scientists say there is no evidence of its effectiveness against the disease. Pixabay

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin has declared that a partial economic shutdown imposed in late March helped slow the outbreak and prevented the nation’s health care system from being overwhelmed. A week ago, he ended the nationwide lockdown.

He has given Russia’s 85 regions a free hand to determine how they will ease their own lockdowns, but some have been struggling. The mostly Muslim southern province of Dagestan has reported a spike in infections that left its hospitals overflowing.

In India, coronavirus cases surged past 100,000, and infections are rising in the home states of migrant workers who fled cities and towns during a nationwide lockdown when they lost their jobs.
India is now seeing more than 4,000 new cases daily. States including West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and Gujarat, the major contributors of India’s migrant labor, are showing major spikes in infections as the country’s lockdown rules have eased. More than 3,100 with COVID-19 have died, according to India’s Health Ministry.

And in densely populated Bangladesh, where authorities reported a record number of new positive tests at over 1,600, thousands of cars were on the streets of the capital, Dhaka, despite a lockdown. Authorities have relaxed some rules and allowed shops to open ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.

In Latin America, intensive care units in the Chilean capital of Santiago have been beyond 90% capacity for days, and officials warned that intensive care staff members are reaching their limits.

“They can’t keep going forever, no matter how many beds or ventilators there are,” said Claudio Castillo, a professor of public policy and health at the University of Santiago.

Infections are also increasing in poor areas of Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, where authorities relaxed strict lockdown measures last week, allowing some businesses to open and children to walk outside on weekends.

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India’s migrant labor, are showing major spikes in infections as the country’s lockdown rules have eased. Pixabay

Colombia struggled with an outbreak in Leticia, a city on the border with Brazil, where hospitals were overwhelmed and patients were being sent to commandeered hotels. Colombia has recorded about 16,300 confirmed cases and close to 600 dead.

In Europe and in the United States, which has seen 36 million Americans file for unemployment, economic concerns dominated the political landscape.

Unemployment claims in Britain jumped 69% in April, the government reported Tuesday. European car sales collapsed by an unprecedented 76% last month.

Also Read: These Books Can Drive Boredom Away in Lockdown 4.0

An experimental vaccine by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna Inc. triggered hoped-for immune responses in eight healthy, middle-aged volunteers. They were found to have antibodies similar to those seen in people who have recovered from COVID-19.

Much bigger studies on the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness are planned. Worldwide, about a dozen vaccine candidates are in or near the first stages of testing.

More than 4.8 million people worldwide have been infected and over 318,000 deaths have been recorded, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University that experts believe is too low for several reasons. (VOA)

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Concept Of Working From Home- Will It Stand The Test Of Time?

People have adopted the concept of working from home during lockdown

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The concept of working from home has been introduced worldwide in the times of the pandemic. Pixabay

When the world was attacked by COVID 19 and with no proven drug/vaccine available xfor treating the infected people, social distancing between individuals was advocated as immediate solution to solve the problem. Even as  the unending debate continue on the causes and effect of COVID 19, the lockdown was imposed to enforce social distancing, which has now proved to be very costly for the economy of the countries around the world even though people are working from home.

To lessen the burden on the economy and to keep the productive operations being continued to the extent possible, working from home was suggested as solution to reduce the adverse impact on the economy.

With the working from home concept being  adopted by several government departments and companies  around the world, the debate started about the merits and demerits of working from home. Till today, the last word has not been said about the merits and demerits  and the appropriateness  of concept of working from home.

The ground reality is that the types of functions where work from home can be carried out and the potential number of people  who could work  from home  in various functions are very limited , since most of the operations are carried out in shop floor and in commercial enterprises, where work from home is not possible at all.  Therefore, obviously, working from home is not a full or even significant solution to keep the economy moving.

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Modern communication facilities and technology have helped the world to execute the concept of working from home. Pixabay

At best, work from home is suitable only for some operations and organisations like software, consultancy etc. with the aid of modern communication facilities and technology. Even in such cases, where working from home  can be possibly  practiced, there are serious limitations and bottlenecks in ensuring efficiency and productivity of those  working from home.

Many believe that efficiency of working from home may be less than 50-% in most cases, since the requisite guidance from the superior authorities can not be provided to the desired level in carrying out  the task. Often, such instructions and guidance call for face to face meetings and with continuous interactions.

Further, in working from home , there cannot be discipline of time bound working hours and inevitably,  people will relax or get disturbed  or have diversion of  the attention from the  targeted  tasks and duties due to variety of reasons.

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It is very evident that many peopel may not be duty consciousness to the level required while working from home and they may need strict supervision to ensure their output. Pixabay

The most important factor is that it is possible that quite a number of people who work from home may not have the commitment and duty consciousness to the level required and they may need strict supervision to ensure their output.

While systematic detailed study is yet to be conducted  to ascertain the efficiency level of working from home, many senior executives seem to be under the impression that employees working from home is not an ideal or desirable method of running an organization.  They seem to think that large scale level of people working from home will impact the overall performance of the organisations very severely and this practice will not stand the test of time.

Of course , the employees in the organisations “who enjoy the pleasure  of working from home” seem to feel extremely happy, as  they do not have to commute to the office, can have flexible working hours and can relax whenever they need, even as they do not lose their salary and perks.

In most of the functions, the output is not  measurable on day today basis and therefore, those working from home may even be able to escape from the scrutiny of their output.

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The concept of working from home is not new but it remains as the only option during the pandemic. Pixabay

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The concept of working from home may work in the case of self employed people,  who set the target for themselves and may put forward the best of efforts to achieve the target set for themselves whether they ” work from home or outside the home”

The concept of working from home is not new and is known for long. In the COVID 19 period , the option of working from home has been adopted  as a measure of least choice with no other option open.

Some software companies have come out with the vague claims that they can ask large number of employees to work from home in the post CIOVID 19 period too,  as it would benefit the organization by having to have less working space, less power consumption etc. etc. However, from the point of view of cost benefit analysis, working from home will not be found advantageous in  the short or long run. . The organisations which opt for employees working from home as permanent practice in the post COVID 19 period, will realize their mistake and will learn at a cost and would give up this practice very soon.

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Japanese Economy Officially in Recession Due to the Pandemic

Japan’s gross domestic product shrank by an annual 3.4% in the first three months of 2020

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A man looks at an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm in Tokyo, May 11, 2020. VOA

Japan’s economy fell into recession for the first time since 2015 as the coronavirus pandemic brought economic activity at home and abroad to a screeching halt.

Figures released Monday by the Cabinet Office show Japan’s gross domestic product shrank by an annual 3.4% in the first three months of 2020, following a contraction in the last quarter of 2019, putting the country in a technical recession with two consecutive quarters of contraction.

The COVID-19 outbreak aggravated an already challenging situation for the world’s third-largest economy, which was dealing with the impact of a sales tax hike and a powerful typhoon. The pandemic led to official quarantines across the globe as governments tried to blunt the spread of the virus.

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The pandemic led to official quarantines and lockdowns across the globe as governments had to take steps for the safety of it’s citizens. Pixabay

Read More: India Extends Lockdown Till May End

Japan has been mildly affected by the coronavirus compared to the rest of the world, with more than 16,000 confirmed infections, including over 700 deaths.  But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe imposed a state of emergency for Tokyo and six other prefectures last month out of fear the outbreak would overwhelm Japan’s healthcare system, then briefly expanded it for the entire country.

The government has announced a $990-billion stimulus bill to blunt the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, including $55 billion in direct payments to households and small businesses. (VOA)